27 incidents in 16 states. That is the number of active shooter incidents in the United States in 2018 according to the FBI. Of the 27 shooters, 23 were male, 3 were female and 1 is at large. The results of those incidents were 213 casualties: 85 killed and 128 wounded. Amongst the dead were 2 law enforcement officers and 1 unarmed security officer and amongst the wounded were 6 law enforcement officers. 9 of the incidents ended with the exchange of gunfire between the shooters and law enforcement. Of the 27 shooters, 10 committed suicide, police apprehended 11, 4 were killed by police, a citizen killed 1, and 1 is at large.
The locations of the 27 incidents varied across the country. Ten of the 27 incidents met the criteria cited in the federal definition of “mass killings,” that is three or more killings in a single incident.
The shooters ranged in age from 13 years to 64 years. Five shooters were in their teens, seven were in their 20s, seven were in their 30s, three were in their 40s, two were in their 50s, and two were in their 60s. The age of one shooter is unknown. While the report did not list the race of the shooters it did list the locations of the shootings. Almost 60 percent of the active shooter incidents in 2018 occurred in commerce related environments. Four of the 16 shooters were current employees. Nineteen percent of the incidents occurred in educational environments (middle and high schools). Three of the shooters were current students, two were former students.
39,773. That was the total amount of shootings in the United States in 2017 as listed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The states that lead with the most deaths by firearm were Texas with 3,513 and California with 3,184. Florida came in third with 2,724, Pennsylvania was fourth with 1,636 and Georgia came in fifth with 1,623. Ohio came in a close sixth with 1,589 and Illinois was the last state to break 1,500 with 1,543.
Two shootings. The most recent mass shootings were in El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH. In El Paso, a gunman killed 22 people at a Wal-Mart. Another nine people were killed in the Oregon District of Dayton. While the shootings I have just listed resulted in lives being lost the coverage by the media has focused heavily on El Paso.
Why? Other than the number of deceased being greater in El Paso why has the media chosen to focus on that shooting and build a white nationalist narrative tying the President to it and say little to nothing about the Dayton shooting. Both of the shooters were white males in their twenties. Both had mental illness issues, and both used semi-automatic weapons to wreak havoc on a community and a nation.
Political ideology. The El Paso shooter left a hate-filled, racist, anti-immigrant manifesto. The Dayton mass shooter retweeted extreme left-wing and anti-police posts, as well as tweets supporting ANTIFA, or anti-fascist, protesters. The El Paso shooters feelings about immigrants have been tied to Trump because of his tough stance on illegal immigration. The majority of the liberal media and many on the Democratic side have labeled Trump a racist for his views on illegal immigration. The Dayton shooter supported Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) and, of all things, gun control. If all things were equal you would think those two positions alone would make him a centerpiece of the coverage by many in the media who support gun control and favor Democrats in general. What gives?
Deflection. It’s easier to deflect attention from the facts and place blame on a supported talking point that promotes a narrative and agenda. The talking point surrounding Trump’s candidacy and presidency is racism and anti-immigrant. The El Paso shooters writings fit perfectly into those beliefs. The Dayton shooter surely would have voted Democratic or for any socialist candidate that was running for office. If that same politician was in favor of gun control and belonged to ANTIFA, he most likely would have donated his time and money to their campaign. It’s unclear if he believed in white nationalism or was a racist. Assuming he was not, it would not have changed the narrative or coverage of his atrocious acts of violence.
Groupthink. The combining of the two acts of hate from politically opposite killers and lumping them together under the umbrella of white nationalism is mental manipulation. The mental state of a person and nation during a time of mourning is highly vulnerable and impressionable. Our grief forces us to search for solutions and people to place blame on. Opinion hosts who favor either political party are drowning impartial journalists voices out. Their shows serve as platforms for those politicians who are seeking to keep or obtain power.
Demagoguery. It is defined as an appeal to people that plays on their emotions and prejudices rather than on their rational side. Demagoguery is a manipulative approach — often associated with dictators and sleazy politicians — that appeals to the worst nature of people. Demagoguery isn’t based on reason, issues, and doing the right thing; it’s based on stirring up fear and hatred to control people. Political parties and politicians who represent them have been equally guilty of these actions. The El Paso and Dayton shooting responses by both parties is a perfect example.
For the liberal media and Democrats, who dominate their airtime, casting the wide net of white nationalism and laying the blame squarely on the president’s shoulders and labeling him, as racist in chief, is disingenuous and dishonest. The president is not responsible for the shootings of an alt-right gunman the same way he is not responsible for the killings of a pro-ANTIFA socialist extremist. For the conservative media who confirm those same sentiments of self-accountability and the politicians who frequent their programs, they too are disingenuous and dishonest when they claim there is nothing more that can be done to help reduce the gun violence that is plaguing our country. Background checks and closing gun show loopholes that do not require those checks at a time of sale may not stop future incidents from occurring. However, implementing them along with red flag or mental health laws would be a good start.
Numb. Our nation has grown numb to gun violence. When you are numb you are unable to think, feel, or react normally because of something that shocks or upsets you. I started this post by listing the statistics of the number of active shooter incidents in the United States in 2018. Since Trump is the president and speaks bluntly and aggressively those opposing him have blamed him for our countries recent history of violence. Members of his party have done what they always have done and blamed the shooter. President Obama was in office for two terms prior to Trump winning in 2016. Research conducted by everytownresearch.org identified 173 mass shooting incidents that occurred between 2009 and 2017. The vast majority of incidents—59 percent—took place entirely in private homes (102 incidents). In nine years, mass shootings resulted in at least 1,793 people shot, including 1,001 people shot and killed and 792 shot and injured. One in five victims were children under the age of 18. In addition to the victims, at least 70 shooters also died by suicide after perpetrating a mass shooting, and responding law enforcement killed another 17.
Facts are things that are known or proved to be true. Gun violence and statistics compiled as those I have listed are amongst them. Our political inability to enact change is also true. Democrats blame Republicans and the National Rifle Association (NRA) for failing to pass legislation that attempts to address the violence that has plagued our nation. Republicans and even grieving family members who have lost a loved one at the hands of an active shooter have blamed Democrats for grouping together all law-abiding gun owners with those who have committed the heinous acts, and charged them with going down the slippery slope of stripping away their 2nd amendment right to bear arms. When both sides concede there is a problem, send thoughts and prayers after each active shooting, then fail to create change for lack of political will, we as a united people lose a piece of our humanity after each passing day. While it’s true that gun laws do not prevent criminals from illegally obtaining firearms, it’s also true that those who suffer from mental illness are behaving criminally when they are allowed to possess weapons when the warning signs of their mental instability are a clear and present danger. Politicians on both sides who fail to do everything they can to find a way to protect our nation with gun laws that are fair for the entire country are equally complicit by way of inaction and undeserving of the position they hold.